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Northside neighborhood feels pressures of increased student presence, housing costs

Northside resident Loy Long Jr. (56) shares his feelings about the construction of The Edition on Rosemary, an annex of The Warehouse apartment complex in Chapel Hill, N.C., on Saturday, Jan. 21, 2023.

Loy Long Jr. has been living in his current home in the Northside neighborhood in Chapel Hill for about a year, but his roots in the neighborhood run deep.

He lived in the house next door for the first year of his life before his family moved to Hillsborough, and his stepsister’s grandfather built the place he currently calls home.

Centrally located near UNC-Chapel Hill and the downtowns of Chapel Hill and Carrboro, Northside encompasses an area of 188 acres — 0.3 square miles.

According to Long, only four original homeowners remain on his street. The rest of the homes have been bought out and many have been renovated for new residents.

He said the houses are increasing in value because of the demand for housing near UNC’s campus. Northside, which is historically the largest Black community in Chapel Hill, has seen a decrease in homeownership for years and an increasing demand for student rentals. 

The U.S. Census reported 1,159 Black residents lived in the Northside neighborhood in 1980, and by 2010, the number decreased to 690.  

“It’s not because of the house,"  he said.  "It’s because of the land."

He is currently renting the house — that has been in his family since 1950 — from his sister at a reasonable price.

Long said he receives letters on a regular basis from prospective buyers but can’t imagine his family selling the home.

“I don’t know why they would ever let it go,” he said.  

Along with an increase of new residents moving into the neighborhood, new apartment additions to West Rosemary St. are bringing UNC campus life closer to Northside.

The Edition on Rosemary, a luxury off-campus housing development, is one such new development. An expansion of The Warehouse, monthly rent at The Edition starts at $1,245. Construction will be complete by August 2023 and has already sold out many applications for rentals, according to its website.

The Edition did not respond to The Daily Tar Heel's request for comment before the time of publication.

Long said his biggest concern with the new building is the traffic it may bring to Rosemary St. He worries that Rosemary St. will be harder to navigate with a car due to more drivers and pedestrians using the road.

Sharron Weaver, who has lived in Northside for 62 years, has also noticed changes in the neighborhood due to students moving into the community.

Having more students in the neighborhood sometimes poses a problem, she said, and the community has worked with the Chapel Hill Police Department to find solutions.

"The neighborhood has changed tremendously because of the students," Weaver told the Daily Tar Heel. "The elderly Afro-Americans who left their homes to their children with the property taxes going up, they can't afford to keep them, so they have to sell them."

Weaver also said more long-standing residents of Northside have had to sell their homes due to the increase in property taxes. Between 2000 and 2010, property taxes in Northside increased by 277 percent.

In the 2022-2023 service year, property taxes in the Town of Chapel Hill were 52.2 cents per 100 dollars of value of the land. 

As land value continues to increase in Chapel Hill, homeowners have to pay more in taxes for their homes. Long said one of his relatives saw her property taxes almost double with the construction of nearby apartments.

“I think that the development and the advancement of that housing situation is making it tougher for the folks that have been here, and the folks that need to stay here,” Eddie Burgard, a site leader for Habitat for Humanity of Orange County, said.    

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As property taxes increase and affordable housing become a larger topic of discussion in Chapel Hill, various organizations are working to keep housing in Northside affordable.

The Northside Neighborhood Initiative is a collaboration between the Town of Chapel Hill, the Marian Cheek Jackson Center and the Self-Help Credit Union. The initiative supports organizations like Habitat for Humanity, Community Home Trust and EMPOWERment, Inc., which build and help to provide affordable housing in the neighborhood.

According to their website, Habitat for Humanity of Orange County builds and repairs homes for Orange County residents and provides low-interest mortgages based on the homeowners’ income.

“What we want to do is keep this community a community and make sure that people have an affordable place to stay,” Burgard said.   

More students are moving toward and into the Northside neighborhood, and both longtime Northside residents and UNC students alike must have to find ways to form a community. 

Long said, in his experience, the students that live around him have been respectful neighbors. He said he has not encountered any major problems.

UNC students and Northside residents can build good relationships, Burgard said, but it requires personal interactions within the community.

“It starts with building relationships, personal relationships — as small as just meeting your neighbors,” Burgard said.     


@DTHCityState |

Eliza Benbow

Eliza Benbow is the 2023-24 lifestyle editor at The Daily Tar Heel. She has previously served as summer university editor. Eliza is a junior pursuing a double major in journalism and media and creative writing, with a minor in Hispanic studies.

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